Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone Harbour and St Mary and St Eanswythe Church


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 28

Catalogue entry

Turner here inverts the sketchbook according to its foliation, producing the drawing upside down. As articulated by Finberg, the prospect describes Folkestone harbour from the east, with the main parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe prominently visible at the centre of the composition.1 For a list of instances both in the present sketchbook and elsewhere in which Turner further examines this church, see the entry for folio 17 verso (D17235). A boat occupies the water just outside the distinctive harbour, and the arms of Dawson’s Mill, later Marsh’s mill are indicated in the distance with a cross on the horizon towards the right.2
This page of the Folkestone sketchbook was reproduced in Turner Society News in 1978.3 Robert Brown and Martin Gill, two members of the society, had that year produced 500 facsimile reproductions of Turner’s watercolour Folkestone from the Sea (Tate D18158; Turner Bequest CCVIII Y). Their technique, known as collotype printing, had been invented by French engineer Alphonse Louis Poitevin in 1855. It involved photographically imprinting the image onto a combination of gelatine and bichromate of potash mounted on a plate which could then be used for direct printing. Achieving a faithful result required seven months of work and a total of ten colour separations. Alongside the impressive watercolour facsimile, Brown and Gill also produced full size reproductions of the present page of the Folkestone sketchbook and another preparatory pencil sketch relating to the Ports of England series of engravings (Tate D17761; Turner Bequest CCIII D).4
Ian Warrell believes5 this latter drawing reproduced in facsimile by Brown and Gill relates to the finished watercolour Fishing Boats on Folkestone Beach (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin).6 In her catalogue entry for the rendering, Alice Rylance-Watson suggests that it may also relate to a previous colour sketch of Folkestone (Tate D17760; Turner Bequest CCIII C). Although these works do take a similar viewpoint to the present page as their subject, the current drawing demonstrates an elevated perspective that is not emulated in the later studies or indeed the finished watercolour.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg,1909, I, p.604.
Alan F. Taylor, ‘Chairman’s report’, Folkestone & District Local History Society, no.10, Spring 2002, p.[1], accessed 8 November 2015, <>.
Al Weil, ‘Reproducing the Full Beauty of a Turner Watercolour’, Turner Society News, no.10, July 1978, p.4, reproduced p.5.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, pp.169, 211 note 27.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.403 no.884, reproduced.

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